September 29, 2020 – Rome: SAPM Dr. Sania Nishtar was invited to speak at the online launch event for the Global Panel’s new Foresight 2.0 report: ‘Future Food Systems: For people, our planet, and prosperity’, co-hosted by the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition, and FAO in Italy. Being a member of the Global Panel’s High-Level Stakeholder Group who had contributed to Global Panel’s report, Dr. Nishtar shared her perspectives of the report alongside Dr. Francesco Branca, Director of the Department of Nutrition and Food Safety, WHO and Diane Holdorf, Food Director World Business Council for Sustainable Development. Speaking at the high-level panel, Dr. Nishtar stated, “Policy makers must address planetary and dietary challenges simultaneously, since they are so fundamentally interlinked. The report makes concrete recommendations on the practical steps which need to be taken in a process of transition, leading to a transformed future food system. And, food system transformation cannot be achieved without ‘pro-poor’ policies that support economic growth as well as social protection policies.” Further adding, she said, “Tackling nutrition in the country, the Government of Pakistan has institutionalized the inter-ministerial ‘Pakistan National Nutrition Coordination Council’ (PNNCC), chaired by the PM and there are 8 Cabinet Ministers in the Council. Another substantive initiative is the recent launch of Ehsaas Nashonuma that is a conditional cash transfer program pegged on addressing stunting and nutrition outcomes among children under two years of age, and pregnant and lactating mothers.” The newly launched Global Panel’s report can be accessed here.
September 24, 2020 – New York: Pakistan and Chile co-hosted a very special event today titled, ‘Poverty at a crossroad: using leadership and the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI)’ at this year’s UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York to address the use of MPI and leadership to build back better as poverty reduction is currently at a crossroad. This high-level event was virtually convened on behalf of the Multidimensional Poverty Peer Network (MPPN.org), a South-South network of senior officials from 60 national governments and 20 international institutions that champions the use of multidimensional poverty measures alongside monetary measures at both the national and global levels. The session was co-hosted by Dr. Sania Nishtar, SAPM on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation, Pakistan and Karla Rubilar, Minister Social Development and Families, Chile. The event brought together expertise and policy influence from 6 heads of State- Imran Khan, Prime Minister of Pakistan, Sebastian Piñera, President of Chile, Ashraf Ghani, President of Afghanistan, Carlos Alvarado Quesada, President of Costa Rica, Juan Orlando Hernández, President of Honduras and KP Sharma Oli, Prime Minister of Nepal. Pakistan is emerging as a global leader in poverty alleviation. At the occasion, Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan addressed the event through a video message. Ehsaas being the massive social protection and poverty alleviation programme in the history of Pakistan was showcased to create awareness and work on the poverty alleviation discourse in collaboration with leaders from around the world. Full footage here.
Sep 22, 2020 – Washington D.C.: A high-level global thinktank, Center for Global Development (CGD), hosted an international forum, ‘Coping with COVID-19: The Pakistan Experience’ that brought together Asad Umar, Federal Minister for Planning, Development, Reforms and Special Initiatives, SAPM on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation, Dr. Sania Nishtar and Dr. Reza Baqir, Governor of the State Bank to exhibit the success of the Pakistan’s smart lockdown strategy and Corona relief package tackling COVID-19 restrictions. In this high-level panel discussion, the three panellists were virtually joined by two international experts, Dr. Kalipso Chalkidou from Global Health team at CGD and Dr. Alan Gelb who leads a workstream on the use of digital ID systems for safety nets in Pakistan and other countries. SAPM Dr. Nishtar shared the know how gained through the design and roll out of Ehsaas Emergency Cash, as well as the operational challenges encountered and how they were addressed. International experts highly lauded Pakistan’s whole of the government approach to address the socio-economic damage induced by the Corona crisis. They acknowledged the digital capabilities that were leveraged for the implementation of Ehsaas Emergency Cash which led to better outcomes than most other countries. Centred in Washington D.C. and London, CGD extends worldwide advisory support capitalized on policy and research to alleviate global poverty and make better lives.
September 21, 2020 – Islamabad: SAPM Dr. Sania Nishtar visited the Panagah and Langar at Peshawar More, Islamabad along with Ehsaas team. The visit aimed to inspect the upgradation work of Panagah and Langar being administered by Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal (PBM). Managing Director PBM, Aon Abbas Buppi briefed Dr. Nishtar about the remodelling work underway at the facility to serve the labourers with dignity and quality. Dr. Nishtar also took round of the Panagah and Langar, and interacted with labourers. As per instructions of the Prime Minister, after the remodeling of first Panagah at Tarlai in the first week of September 2020, the prioritized living and catering standards are being implemented in all five Panagahs of Islamabad. Panagahs not only provide shelter to labourers but also meals for them.
Sep 21, 2020 – Karachi: Standard Chartered Bank Pakistan invited SAPM Dr. Sania Nishtar to keynote the closing event of Women in Tech program that celebrated aspiring women entrepreneurs. The event announced names of winners of the program. Some seven women led companies won up to Rs 1.5 million in seed grants. Inspiring young women entrepreneurs, Dr. Nishtar remarked, “To ensure that women beneficiaries are not underrepresented, ambition of Ehsaas is to skew critical initiatives towards women, by ensuring that at least 50% of all beneficiaries targeted by the program across initiatives are women. To assist with this, the fifty percent and plus benefits for women are squarely embedded in all 140 Ehsaas programs, police and initiatives.” Standard Chartered had launched Women in Tech (SCWomenInTech) in Pakistan in March 2019. This program is aimed to promote the economic and social development of women in Pakistan through innovation or technology led entrepreneurship.
September 17, 2020 -Islamabad: “All eligible Emergency Cash beneficiaries with biometric challenges who will apply through the new Ehsaas Facilitation Portal will receive fresh disbursement messages with date and bank branch details from 8171 service and the process is being expedited nationwide to facilitate easy payments”, explained SAPM Dr. Sania Nishtar in her recently tweeted instructional video. The instructional video describes how applications can be submitted online on the portal (http://complaints.pass.gov.pk/) following three easy steps. Beneficiaries faced with biometric issues just need to provide name, CNIC number and phone number for the application. With the submission of these credentials, the applicant will get the tracking number for each application. As part of the process, beneficiaries will be contacted soon by Ehsaas on the given phone numbers to facilitate payments in the last two weeks. Payments to families of dead beneficiaries and those with biometric verification issues will continue till September 30. The video can be watched here.
September 16, 2020 -Islamabad: Taking measures to resolve payment issues being encountered by eligible applicants of Ehsaas Emergency Cash, an online portal has been introduced under the banner of Ehsaas. Officially, emergency cash transfers under Ehsaas have sunset countrywide on Sep 15, 2020, however, disbursements to families of dead beneficiaries and those confronted with biometric verifications will go on till Sep 30, 2020. To assist with this, the new portal has been opened online to solicit applications from eligible beneficiaries in a simple three- step process. As part of the easy solution, all applicants with issues in biometric payments can now create their applications by entering name, CNIC number and contact number on the portal. With the submission of online application, the portal instantaneously auto-generates the unique reference number for each applicant. In line with rule -based procedures, applicants are being contacted by Ehsaas on the phone numbers keyed in at the time of web-applications. “All people with biometric challenges who will apply through this new application portal will receive new disbursement messages with date and bank branch details from 8171 service and the process is being expedited nationwide to facilitate easy payments”, reiterated SAPM Dr. Sania Nishtar. The portal can be accessed here.
September 16, 2020 -Islamabad: Heads of Missions of the European Union and Member States commended Ehsaas as the largest and most extensive social protection intervention in the country. This was expressed at the Ehsaas briefing hosted by Ambassador of European Union to Pakistan H.E. Androulla Kaminara in Islamabad. Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation, Dr. Sania Nishtar was invited to brief the EU diplomats about the successes, digital innovations and useful lessons from the Ehsaas programme that is comprised of more than 135 multi-sectoral policies, actions and initiatives. Outlining details of Ehsaas and particularly Ehsaas Emergency Cash, Dr. Nishtar highlighted commitment of the government towards welfare of the disadvantaged in the country. “Digital infrastructure set up over the course of the last year to implement Ehsaas was drawn upon to carry out the Rs. 203 billion Ehsaas Emergency Cash within just ten days of the COVID-19 lockdowns. Leveraging digital innovations, the emergency cash program is delivering one-time cash assistance of USD 75 each to 16.9 million needy families across Pakistan which given family size, benefits more than 109 million people”, shared Dr. Nishtar. Heads of EU Missions to Pakistan showed profound interest to strengthen collaboration between Ehsaas and European Union Missions to Pakistan.
September 15, 2020: The Lancet Commission on Reframing Non-Communicable Diseases and Injuries (NCDI) for the Poorest Billion (Lancet NCDI Poverty Commission) hosted a global virtual event to launch the Commission’s report and spark a new movement around one of the world’s biggest and most neglected health disparities: NCDIs that kill and disable millions of people in the poorest countries. SAPM Dr. Sania Nishtar was a panellist on session titled, “NCDI and Poverty: How Do We Change Business as Usual? In this high-level panel discussion, Dr. Nishtar was joined by Matshidiso Moeti from WHO AFRO, Lea Kilenga from Africa Sickle Cell Organization and Agnes from Binagwaho, Lancet NCDI Poverty Commission. Addressing the panel, Dr. Nishtar highlighted, “For too long, we have neglected NCDs & injuries for those in poverty. WHO needs to broaden beyond the 4×4 framework for NCDs.” The event marked the publication of the Lancet NCDI Poverty Commission report, which provides the clearest picture yet of the burden of NCDs and injuries on the world’s poorest billion and calls for urgent action to address it. The report can be accessed here.
September 15, 2020 – Islamabad: Under the overarching Ehsaas framework, BISP becomes the first organization in the social sector institutions of the government to adopt modern and efficient way of maintaining its financials on International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) Accrual basis. In line with the Ehsaas Governance and Integrity Policy that is binding on the Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Division (PASSD) and its ancillary organizations, books of accounts within BISP are being shifted from legacy cash to accrual basis. Commenting on this institutional reform, SAPM Dr. Sania Nishtar tweeted, “Sitting under the umbrella of Ehsaas, we have successfully launched first phase of transition to accrual accounting within BISP for improving financial planning and management in accordance with best international practices.” Continuing, she said, “Adopting accrual accounting for financial reporting is intended to further the credibility and resilience of public finances under Ehsaas and helps to unlock the benefits of programme resources.”
September 14, 2020: To explore options for strategic collaboration around digitally centred social welfare in Pakistan, Dr. Sania Nishtar, Special Assistant to the PM on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation connected with senior management of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Global. In the virtual meeting, Dr. Nishtar was joined by Head of Strategic Innovation UNDP Global, Giulio Quaggiotto, Innovation Specialist UNDP Asia Pacific Alexandru Oprunenco and Resident Rep a.i. UNDP Pakistan Aliona Niculita. The meeting discussed potential synergies between Ehsaas and UNDP on the future of governance for poverty, social safety and digital transformation.
September 12, 2020 – Multan: As disbursements of Ehsaas Emergency Cash draw close to the conclusion throughout the country by September 15, 2020, SAPM Dr. Sania Nishtar visited Ehsaas Emergency Cash distribution point at Aligarh Model School and College in Multan to gain insights from the field. In the campsite, biometrically enabled payments were being made to eligible beneficiaries through several booths operated by authorized retail agents of partnering bank. Dr. Nishtar spoke to several beneficiaries who had come to withdraw emergency cash, listened to their problems and issued instructions to Ehsaas team to facilitate easy payments at the earliest. Later, Dr. Nishtar visited the Ehsaas Langar adjacent to the main bus terminal of Multan that is in its final stages of construction to open next week. The district government of Multan collaborated with Ehsaas to provide the site for Langar. The Langar when ready, will serve cooked food twice daily to 1,000 labourers.